A major shakeup in how autism services are delivered has resulted in layoffs at a local organization.

As Kidsability deals with its new financial reality under the province’s remodeled autism program, nine autism therapy providers are being laid off.

“It’s never easy to have to lay off staff,” says Linda Kenny, the organization’s CEO. “We have passionate, dedicated, professional staff who come to work every day trying to make a difference for kids and families.”

Kidsability’s core autism program is slated to lose about $3.5 million per year in provincial funding, and that’s just the start.

“We do know that we will be receiving significantly less funding in the short term, and in the long term, no funding at all from the Ontario government directly,” Kenny says.

That likely means that more parents will have to seek private care.

Under the new system, parents are given up to $23,000 based on a sliding income scale to pay for private programs and materials.

“We’ll work with the families as best as we can with the amount of funding they do have,” says Carrie Spence with Progressive Behaviour Therapy.

Private providers are now tailoring their programming to meet achievable behaviour goals.

“We really have to focus, zero in on one goal or two because we don’t have the amount of time to go through all the domains we would normally go through,” explains senior therapist Keltie Heggie.

Private providers are recommending that parents begin searching right away, because there will be wait lists to get kids access to private care.